London (AFP) – Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal have emerged stronger from the January transfer window after landing two new signings and keeping Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Arteta has bolstered his creaky defence by adding Flamengo’s Pablo Mari and Southampton’s Cedric Soares this week.
Just as significantly, the Arsenal manager held on to Gabon forward Aubameyang despite reported interest from Barcelona, while Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka decided to stay after initially looking set to leave following his clash with fans.
“I am happy for two reasons,” Arteta told reporters on Friday. “We believed we could strengthen the team a little bit in some areas with the financial situation we have, but as well four weeks ago I was very concerned with some of the departures and we have been able to manage that so far.
“We have been trying to be active in the market to resolve some of the issues we have been going through in the last few weeks.
“We found two players that we believe can be very useful and could improve our squad, obviously with the resources we have as a club, and we are happy with what we’ve done.”
Aubameyang and David Luiz are available for Sunday’s trip to Burnley after serving suspensions, but Portugal defender Soares will not be fit to make his debut until after the upcoming winter break.
Soares has a knee injury, but Arteta is pleased he will eventually have another option in the full-back areas with Kieran Tierney and Saed Kolasinac sidelined.
“Cedric is a player who has big experience of playing in different countries and in this league, so he knows what it means,” Arteta said.
“And he has been very willing to go to another top club. He has that desire and commitment.
“I followed him a few seasons ago and I really like what he can bring and they were the right conditions for us as well to try to improve the squad.”
Spanish centre-back Mari has joined from Flamengo on loan but Arsenal have the option to make his transfer permanent.
“For me it is very important. He balances what I want to do from the backline and gives us more options and more solutions,” Arteta said.
“He opens up the pitch more. He is one we have followed for the last few months and we are happy to have.”
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